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February 6, 2013

Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Municipal Audits

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced his office completed audits of the Town of Bangor, Town of Black Brook, Town of Florida, Jericho Fire District, City of Mechanicville, Town of Olive and the Watertown Housing Authority.

“My office's audits of local governments improve their financial management practices," DiNapoli said. "These audits are tools for local officials to make sure proper policies and procedures are in place to protect taxpayer dollars and provide the best possible service these taxpayer dollars can deliver."

Town of Bangor – Board Oversight (Franklin County)
The board circumvented town law by allowing the dog control officer and the code enforcement officer to retain the fees they collected as part of their compensation. The board did not audit the records of the town supervisor, clerk, dog control officer and code enforcement officer. The board’s failure to oversee departmental operations increases the risk that moneys could be misappropriated and any loss or theft may not be detected.

Town of Black Brook – Financial Condition of Sewer and Water Districts (Clinton County)
The town board adopted budgets for the sewer and water districts that were not reasonable or structurally balanced. This resulted in annual operating deficits, declining fund balances and declining cash balances. Further, the board has not adopted a long-term capital plan or a long-term financial plan to address the sewer and water districts’ corresponding costs, and future repairs and maintenance costs.

Town of Florida – Town Clerk Operations (Montgomery County)
Auditors found that at least $19,107 of taxpayer funds were missing from 2010 through 2012. The town clerk transferred money between accounts to cover up these shortfalls. Because the clerk did not maintain adequate, accurate and complete records and reports or physically secure collections, there may have been transactions that were not accounted for and additional moneys missing.

Jericho Fire District – Professional Services (Nassau County)
The fire district’s procurement policy does not require the use of competitive methods when procuring professional services. In addition, although the district entered into written agreements with a physical trainer and an engineering consultant, there are no board resolutions approving these contracts. The district may not be procuring professional services in the most prudent and economical manner.

City of Mechanicville – Records and Reports (Saratoga County)
Due to the poor condition of financial records and reports, city officials were unable to determine the city’s true financial condition. Because of the city council’s failure to fulfill its oversight responsibilities, city finances could be under fiscal stress and the council would not know it. Further, the city council has adopted unrealistic budgets over the past several years.

Town of Olive – Claims Processing and Information Technology (Ulster County)
Internal controls over information technology do not adequately protect the town’s electronic data. The town board has not adopted an acceptable computer use policy, a breach notification policy or a disaster recovery plan. In addition, the board does not adequately audit claims presented for payment.

Watertown Housing Authority – Internal Controls Over Claims Processing (Jefferson County)
The housing authority has established and designed an adequate system of internal controls over claims processing. However, auditors found the authority’s management provided weekend trips for five retirees costing $4,962. Authority officials characterized the trips as a gift for the retirees’ years of service. These paid trips could be considered improper gifts of public funds.

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